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Should Missouri Teachers Get Tenure?

A state senator from the area has pushed a measure to double the time it takes teachers to get tenure from five to 10 years.

Efforts have been underway to eliminate tenure for public school teachers in Missouri, but those have largely come up short in the state legislature.

The Columbia Missourian reported Tuesday that the "debate came to halt when a divided (state senate) chamber approved an amendment to keep tenure in place while a special task force examines teacher pay and effectiveness."

But the issue hasn't entirely died. On Thursday, Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, amended her original version of the bill; now, that version has gotten first-round approval in the state senate. It would double from five to 10 years the number of years a teacher must serve before earning tenure.

MissouriNet reports that, according to Cunningham, "the tenure system makes it too hard to get rid of ineffective teachers, (and she) had wanted to eliminate tenure but has settled for a version of her bill that another senator calls 'watered down.'"

The Missourian notes that tenure makes it difficult for school districts to get rid of a teacher for any reasons other than immoral conduct; incompetency, inefficiency or insubordination; willful or persistent violation of the state's school laws or regulations; excessive absences; or conviction of certain felonies.

Proponents of eliminating or weakening tenure say the existing system makes it too difficult to fire underperforming teachers.

Democratic Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-St. Louis County, was the only Democrat opposed to keeping the teacher tenure system intact, according to a report by CBS Radio in St. Louis

“All I am asking for is accountability,” Chappelle-Nadal told CBS; she is also a school board member for University City.

Do you agree? Should Missouri weaken the tenure system — if not eliminate it altogether? Or should teachers have the sort of job protection tenure affords?

Patch blogger, Aimee Granneman, has spoken out in support of teachers and tenure.

CreveCoeurDad April 09, 2012 at 05:13 PM
You are assuming that the Finnish system is transferable to the U.S., which may be an incorrect assumption. I seriously doubt the Finnish system would work in an inner city school in the U.S., or in Appalachia for that matter. Why? One word - culture. Finns value education, hence they have success. If you don't value it, no system in the world will educate you. Like the old saying say, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. It's not popular to say it, but teachers have far less of an effect on student performance than popular mythology would have you believe. The best teacher in the world will have little success in a classroom with unmotivated students, unsupportive administration, and indifferent parents. A bad teacher won't help, but won't produce all that much worse a result. And quite frankly, you don't need a Ph.D. in mathematics to teach Algebra I. There is no magic bullet out there waiting to be discovered regarding education. We know how to teach, we just don't want to face the hard reality that academic success takes hard work, discipline, self-control, and sacrifice, pretty much like anything in life. No teacher in the world can instill that by themselves, but a system/society that demanded that would go a long way to restoring academic excellence. Good luck doing that, because no one wants to hear that they may the cause of their own failure. We have met the enemy, and they are us.
Matt Good April 11, 2012 at 02:01 AM
When was the last time you were in a school or had a real conversation with a teacher about his or her job? I'm a public school teacher. I am not lazy or ineffective, and I take my responsibility very seriously. I collaborate with many teachers in my district and surrounding districts. I have yet to work with a teacher who is lazy and ineffective, and all the teachers I know takes their jobs seriously.
Morgan Q. Mance, EA April 11, 2012 at 03:12 AM
To Matt Good, Wow, that's fantastic... and certainly contradictory to what I have witnessed in the WG school district. Maybe I ought to move to your school's area if all the teachers you encounter have the same drive as you!
CreveCoeurDad April 11, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Matt - I'm sure you are dedicated and good at your job, but really? You have never noticed any teacher who is lazy or ineffective and they all take their job seriously? All your fellow colleagues are above average? You can think of no one who is maybe just a little too complacent, stuck in a rut, has low expectations, or is just marking time? Or maybe it's just you who doesn't have very high standards? Like the old saying goes, when you're sitting at a poker table and you can't spot the fool in the first 15 minutes, you are the fool. Although I only taught for a very short time, I can tell you that going through my teacher certification classes, student teacher training, and actual teaching, spotting the ineffective teachers was pretty easy. There were the teachers who had their students coloring to do their science assignments - in high school! There were the colleagues who couldn't explain how or why an experiment worked, and all it required was a basic knowledge of algebra. There were teachers who had the attitude that they didn't really care if the students learned anything in their class or not, because if they really needed to know it, they would learn it in college. And there was the guy who did nothing but show disaster movies and give quizzes on them and called it Earth Science. And all of this was at suburban schools in St. Louis and St. Charles. (Not Ladue or Clayton, BTW, who actually do have some pretty amazing teachers and students.)
Denise April 12, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Amen Jeff! I also am a teacher. I'd love to see some of these anti-teacher individuals spend a week in my classroom with 30+ kids with different levels of ability, different social/emotional needs and varying attitudes about the need for education and see what kind of results they would have. If they can do a better job, please show me how! Doctors and lawyers pay for insurance to protect them if they make a mistake. This is what teacher unions do. Should doctors need malpractice insurance? We take their experience and degree as proof of superior knowledge! Why are teachers not afforded that same type of respect? Missouri is among the highest standards for teacher certification and while I agree, there are some that are just biding their time, there are many more others who care and are working hard to educate YOUR children. The NEA and other teacher unions are there to protect teachers from being released without just cause. There is ample opportunity to weed out "bad teachers" if administrators do their job to document and attempt to improve the situation. NCLB, EOC's and the various other acronyms used to "prove teacher effectiveness" do not take into account the lack of support teachers receive from parents. I can offer the material, make it interesting and do what I feel is best for my students, but if parents don't reinforce the value of education and respect in the classroom, my test scores won't be what proves my "effectiveness."
Denise April 12, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Thank you!
Rich Pope April 14, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Tenure is simply a 90-day notice. Nothing more.
Dan April 23, 2012 at 04:01 AM
It is not the tax payers fault that you chose a career that involved being underpaid, unappreciated and full of all the frustrations. If you weren't smart enough to research the career you chose then should you really be teaching kids anything? You, as well as everyone else gets what you deserve every payday. If you don't like the pay, benefits and the lucrative pension (75% of your last three years) the quit and find something more satisfying and rewarding. But please research the job so the taxpayers don't have to hear your bellyaching.
Striek April 23, 2012 at 04:19 AM
Doctors are professionals that receive a lot more taxpayer money than teachers - and you aren't questioning their motives and whether they are in it for the money, and whether they should really be caring for patients. If teachers have it so good, Dan, with their lucrative compensation and whatnot, then why don't you study to become one, and you quit your whining.
Earl Higgins April 23, 2012 at 02:15 PM
stlpm636, do you have a source for the claim that Ladue Schools are non-union? I have never heard that, and the page at http://www.ladueschools.net/district/content/our-district/departments/human-resources/human-resources.shtml#jumpparagraph2 would seem to indicate otherwise. But please, if I'm wrong, educate me! Thanks.
teri Detter April 23, 2012 at 02:37 PM
according to Senator Brian Nieves, parents have favored a change in the tenure . He does have a website and a newsletter where his constituents have urged a reform in the teacher tenure law. Perhaps parents fear repercussions from teachers if they overtly vice their desires to the teachers who are responsible for their children.
teri Detter April 23, 2012 at 02:43 PM
doctors get taxpayers' money? I didnt know that. what are you referring to striek? I am sure Dan wants to be a teacher .He researched his job career and is comprtive enough to perform in a reasonable way as not to worry about a yearly contract with his employer.
teri Detter April 23, 2012 at 02:46 PM
in regards to Ladue schools being union, my understanidng the district's salary schedule is based on merit pay . teacher organizations such as MNEA and MSTA do have collective bargaining and discuss with the school board throughout the year issues that arise . MNEA does represent teachers that individual issues with a teaching situation
teri Detter April 23, 2012 at 02:57 PM
PS I am not aware of any school district that is union except for St. Louis City Public Schools.
Striek April 23, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Not buying it teri. Tenure was hardly on any parent's radar until partisan politicians decided to make it a wedge issue and a means to go after teacher unions. Senator Nieves having a website and a newsletter does not make it a reality (likely a cut and paste from the Heritage Foundation, Heartland Institute and the like). Parents afraid to talk to their teachers - Are you making this up? When I have a question or request I get a response from my child's teacher within a half-day. Principal the same. Anyone can attend a board meeting. I have more open communications with my public school than any private sector service.
teri Detter April 23, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Go to the senate Mo gov. and check out all Senators and their newsletter to their constituents. You can be skepitcal as much as you want but read some what is being said around you. And yes parents will not openly criticize a teacher's position , especially if it entails a threat to the teacher's job. Why would you think I am making this this up? This pubication I am referring to is a fact from a State Senator. It is not my opinion I threw this in the discussio so you can see what is being sent to Sneators ( well at least mine) in regards to what parents are saying to the Senator because you said parents like tenure , That's all just read some other views before you argue . I have red your opinions and I have not seen any facts backing it up except for that fact that is the way you think.
Striek April 23, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Medicare or medicaid? Sure, not all doctors take it. But one way or another, Taxpayers do pay for doctors -whether it gets called a tax, a premium, co-pay, and/or via higher overall medical costs. I do not have anything against doctors and their pay levels. Just calling out Dan's concept that teachers can't possibly care about their students while collectively bargaining for their compensation.
teri Detter April 23, 2012 at 03:23 PM
well then you dont really know too much except by your small personal experience in your schools. MO. is a big state with alot of school districts. Personal experience is very limited in a discussion about a law to reform teacher tenure. Calling Senators in the state of MO liars makes your credibility tenuous striek I fiind it disrespectful to accuse senators of conjuring up false statements. Your opinions have been all but idle arguments now .
Striek April 23, 2012 at 03:30 PM
I put more credence in my personal experience with schools and teachers. I can walk into my child's school and talk to the teacher or principal and that is more real and effective than something conjured up for a state senator's website.
Striek April 23, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Teri, if you are reading my prior comments, you would notice my mention that not all parents may have experiences with public schools as positive as mine. I'm not calling anyone a liar. (Though do I really need to point out that politicians have been known to lie?). I give more credence to personal experience, what more can I say. I feel I can be a better advocate for my child's education by dealing with the real people involved rather than a Senator in Jeff City with a political axe to grind. I realize I live in a larger world than my own, but really am not compelled today to regurgitate what some think tank website says. Have a lovely day.
Earl Higgins April 23, 2012 at 04:10 PM
So... in other words... union? Aren't both of those organizations Teacher's Unions? Or am I missing something?
Getaclu April 23, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Terri Detter... Why are you afraid to talk to a teacher with tenure? This doesn't give us super powers.
teri Detter April 23, 2012 at 04:39 PM
you have taken that comment out of context Getaclu
teri Detter April 23, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Earl, teacher organizations as MNEA and MSTA are not unions. The members are teachers who are assigned the task to meet with BOE during salary and benefit discussions. It is a weak collective bargaining discussion if you will. The organization does not have the authority to call a strike and the discussions are just that discussion with the BOE having the final decisions. In the schools in MO a no strike policy is in place, something that originated with govt employees not being allowed to strike/work stoppage. I think anyway
Getaclu April 23, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Please explain.
teri Detter April 23, 2012 at 05:14 PM
I mentioned to Striek that Brian Nieves has a constituents newsletter and has expressed that parents are in favor of a reformed tenure law. Striek didnt buy that because of her experience paraents were all supported of the teachers. I then explain there are parents who are reluctant to say any negatives toward teacher job security in an overt way but would and do voice that opinion elsewhere and not directly to the teacher in their school distract. aka Brian Nieves website where parents in his district have favored reformed . does that clarify ?
Striek April 23, 2012 at 05:39 PM
You've more than clarified your bias against teachers in the real world and in favor of state senators with political agendas.
Striek April 23, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Wow. Brian Nieves - never heard of this guy until today. Good grief - why am I even debating this topic when you reference such an extremist clown. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/04/who-knew-secession-again-on-the-agenda-in-missouri/255980/
Michael Rhodes April 23, 2012 at 06:38 PM
MSTA has the following on their website: Q: Will MSTA become a union? A: Truthfully, we’ve always done what a union does. We’re involved in the political process and the negotiations process. We fight legislatively for funding and defend teachers when employment-related problems arise or when legal assistance is needed. We will continue to do all those things. So, they are not a union, but act as one. If that helps. MNEA states they are a union: 7. Is MNEA a union or a professional association? We are both. A union advocates for its members. The American Bar Association and the American Medical Association both qualify as unions. And like the MNEA and NEA, they are also professional associations. Education employees are in an unusual category because what affects employees also affects children. A teacher’s working conditions are a child's learning conditions.
Earl Higgins April 23, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Holy smokes Striek, good work there! I had always wondered in the back of my mind if this whole thing were a conjured-up wedge non-issue fabricated by the Tea Party. If that article on Brian Nieves' actions isn't the smoking gun, I don't know what is. Thanks, Nieves and Cunningham for wasting everyone's time on this non-problem.

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